November 2018: noises off

Another word on Thornaby, that verdant and wonderfully transformed ground near the Tees. Among much else they have a PA system that not only works but can be heard in all four corners.

FA ground criteria stipulate that PA is mandatory at Ebac Northern League first division level but not, for some reason, in the second – where Thornaby presently reside.

In this communication-conscious age, shouldn’t an effective public address system be required on all grounds?

Even in the first division, how many clubs have PA? If they have, do they use it? If they use it, can it be heard by anyone standing more than ten feet away, a whisper in the grass?

The FA may primarily see a PA system as a safety requirement but it’s an information tool, too. We need to be better, much better, informed.

*Thornaby also started us chewing on about the parmo, that Teesside delicacy now available for £3 50 from the tea hut or buckshee if chairman Apollo’s circumlocuting the ground in a good mood.

The younger bairn emails from London, where for too long he’s been exiled: “Parmos don’t come in a bun,” he says.

The reply’s not greatly paternal: “They bloody well do in Middlesbrough.”

*Back to Avro, West Auckland’s third round opponents in the FA Vase, though it’s Oldham – where the club’s based – which now demands attention.

John Maughan not only wonders if we remember the early TV commercial “I told ’em Oldham” but sends a photograph of a vehicle with the car battery ad on the side.

He might have added, but didn’t, that the town once had a railway station called Oldham Mumps. Someone may know why.

Geoff Smoult, Whitley Bay fan long exiled in Lancashire, sees fit to issue a long range weather forecast. “If you think it’s cold in Tow Law, Esh Winning, Consett or Brandon, wear double thermals for Oldham.”

Geoff’s mistaken, however, to suppose that Oldham Athletic’s is the highest Premier League/Football League ground. That’s West Brom, improbably enough, 552ft above the sea. Oldham’s 526ft, followed downhill by Port Vale (520), Accrington Stanley (516) and Macclesfield (513).

The lowest is Grimsby Town’s, just two feet above contradiction (and the North Sea swell.)

Memory suggests that the wonderful Ironworks Road ground at Tow Law is only the second highest “senior” non-league venue, mathematically – though not actually – a few feet more clement than Matlock.

The highest of all, 20 miles west, is Wearhead United’s – but they’re stories for another day.